If you have difficulty getting around for any reason a mobility scooter may be in your future but before you run out and buy one, you should read this. It should answer most of your questions and if not it will provide links to sites that can be helpful. This is a serious effort to respond to questions based on my own experience of purchasing three mobility scooters over the past five years for my own use.
I am a 78 year old man with osteoarthritis and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Pain and limited lungpower make walking more than 50 feet difficult or impossible. Like many of you who have similar impediments I still want to be active, to move around on my own, go shopping, sightseeing and traveling. Mobility scooters have allowed me that freedom and they help to alleviate the depression caused by being disabled.
IMPORTANT. Before you decide that you need any kind of mobility assistance you should be as honest with yourself as possible. Surveys clearly indicate that people who own disability scooters and wheelchairs are likely to overuse them and could risk shortening their lives due to a lack of exercise. While I have both an indoor and an outdoor scooter I only use them when walking is not an option. I never use a scooter inside my home. Any amount of walking I can do is good for me even though it isn’t always comfortable to engage in that activity. Please keep this thought in mind as you read the rest of this report.
You’ve all probably used the supermarket-type electric shopping carts. Don’t compare them to mobility scooters, they are totally different because they are a single purpose vehicle. They are built to stay indoors, carry a lot of weight, turn around in an aisle and move slower than a glacier. All of those qualities are great for a supermarket but serve little purpose at home or for outdoor travel.
Will Medicare or private insurance pay for Mobility Scooters?
The best answer is that there are a limited number of cases in which either will offer any financial assistance and at best it will be only 80 percent. The fact is if you want a mobility scooter for the same purposes I do it is likely you will pay for it yourself. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance all pretty much abide by the rules Medicare has set up to qualify for their involvement. (WARNING! If you are depending on Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance to pay for your scooter SIGN NOTHING until you have their approval in writing, know what kind of scooter they will approve and how much they will pay).
In order to qualify for Medicaid assistance in purchasing a scooter or wheelchair you must be able to provided evidence from your physician that you have a medical need for it. Medicare won’t cover this equipment if it will be used mainly for leisure or recreational activities, or if it’s only needed to move around outside your home. And — you may need to get your power wheelchair or scooter from specific Medicare approved suppliers. For more information you can visit Medicare.gov/supplier, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for more information. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Or you can use this link for more information. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/manual-wheelchairs-and-power-mobility-devices.html
If your ability to move around or walk very far has become compromised in some way and you are thinking about acquiring a mobility scooter, talk to your physician before you do anything else. You cannot declare yourself disabled, only a physician can make that determination. If you are seeking government financial help for mobility assistance your physician will first have to formally make that declaration. He or she will use certain conditions to determine if you qualify. Most physicians use the criteria established by Medicare and Medicare Part B. Included in these conditions, as outlined on the Medicare website, are:
- Overall strength – To operate a scooter you must be able to sit upright and have the strength in your hands to operate the controls
- Upper body strength – If you have sufficient upper body strength Medicare may require you be prescribed a manual wheel chair rather than an electric mobility scooter
- Ability to balance – If you cannot maintain your balance, you may not qualify for a mobility scooter
You should also be aware that if Medicare pays at all, they will only pay 80% of the cost of a vehicle and, again, only for use IN the home. You must prove to Medicare via diagnosis by a medical professional that you are indeed disabled and unable to get around your home without such a vehicle. If you want a vehicle for outside use only, neither Medicare nor Medicaid will pay for it. Be aware, too, that changes in the law could have taken place since this was written so it is always best to refer to the links and numbers posted above.
How do I decide on a scooter?
The first thing you must do is determine exactly where you will use your scooter and why. Emotions aside, this decision should be practical and logical. Do you need it to get around your home? If that’s the case and the areas to which you need access are all on one floor with no steps or raised thresholds to cross, then a smaller, less expensive vehicle will do (some older homes are just not suitable for mobility scooters and maybe not even wheelchairs so retrofitting them to be more accommodating could become prohibitively expensive. If your home is compact with lots of turns and little room to turn around you may want to choose a wheelchair because of its tighter turning radius).
This link provides the names of all mobility scooter manufacturers with links to their specific products. https://www.mobilityscootersdirect.com/mobility-scooters/by-brand.html
Below is a striking example of the difference in scooters (specs provided by Drive Devilbiss Medical the manufacturer of the two scooters mentioned. I used these examples because I own them but you should be aware that there is a wide variety of scooters between the two mentioned here. All scooter sales companies have all the specs you need on any given scooter. You’ll find more detailed specs on them by clicking on this link. http://www.drivemedical.com/power-mobility).
Drive Medical Spitfire Scout three wheel, among the lowest priced scooters (about $600). Mainly for indoors.
- Maximum weight it will carry 300 lbs.
- Top speed 4.25
- Range on fully charged battery 9 miles
- Turning radius 45.5“
- Climbing slope 6 degrees
- Ground clearance 2.5“
- Base weight 49 lbs.
- Battery weight 20 lbs.
- Seat weight 16 lbs.
- Total weight 85 lbs. This scooter can be broken down into three parts; the battery, the base and the seat.
- Warranty 16 months on electronics and 6 months on the battery
- Motor 270 watts
Drive Medical Panther four wheel heavy-duty, all-terrain mobility scooter. Expensive (about $3,000). Mainly for outdoors.
- Maximum weight it can carry 425 lbs.
- Top speed 8 MPH
- Range on fully charged batteries 25 miles
- Ground clearance 4 ‘
- Base weight 145 lbs.
- Battery weight 64 lbs. total for the two batteries)
- Seat weight 55 lbs.
- Total scooter weight 264 lbs. (only the seat is removable)
- Warranty 24 months on electronics, 12 months on batteries.
- Motor – 800 Watts
So back to the question about which scooter is right for you. If you anticipate extensive use in a variety of outdoor environments you are going to pay a hefty price for a “heavy-duty” or “all-terrain” scooter. If you only want something portable that you can throw in the trunk of your car and take into Wal*Mart or a shopping Mall your choices will be far less expensive but the tradeoff is that they need charging more often, won’t carry much more than 300 lbs. and are slow. Prices range from just under $600 to well over $6,000 for more elaborate models. I have a Spitfire for indoor use and a Drive Mobility Panther for outdoor travel. As mentioned earlier neither was paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. I knew I did not qualify so I did not even apply.
What if I need to transport my scooter?
All mobility vehicles have the same challenge — you have to get them to where you want to use them. (THIS IS A MAJOR ISSUE, DON’T GLOSS OVER IT.) Some, like the Spitfire Scout, require no added expense because it can be disassembled and tossed in your trunk quite easily often by the user him or herself (you can purchase a rear bumper platform that will elevate and secure the scooter for outside your car or van transportation but these can be costly)..
The Panther or one like it does not disassemble (except for the seat) will require a mechanism to lift it or pull it inside a van (these pieces can be expensive). Because my wife Robin is an artist who sells her creations at art fairs around the south and central U.S. we have a high top van. We cut the expense of transporting the scooter significantly by building a special compartment in the van with access through the side door. A folding aluminum ramp cost about $200, a remote controlled winch was another $100 and we used one of those jump-start batteries to power the winch which cost another $100. The rest is easy. I drive the scooter to the edge of the ramp, connect the winch hook to the frame of the scooter and with a flick of a switch on the remote control, pull the scooter into the van. The whole process from setting up the ramp to securing the scooter inside takes about 5 minutes.
If you don’t want or need to transport your scooter and only need to drive it out your front door to the corner store then you will have very few problems. You may need a ramp to get in and out of the house and a place to store the ramp and scooter inside, but that’s about all. Remember, too, that indoor scooters are certainly capable of traveling outside the home but they don’t do well in any kind of rough or uneven terrain.
Just as small scooters can be used outdoors, heavy-duty scooters can be used indoors – sometimes. They usually don’t do well because of their size (the Spitfire Is 42 inches long and has no back basket. The Panther is 56 inches long without the rear basket and 62 inches with it). Heavy duty scooters are big, bulky and have a wider turning radius, so unless you live in spacious one floor home or apartment they are not of much use in a home. Outside of the home they are wonderful. About three times a week I take my Panther on the two mile round trip to our Publix Supermarket. I drive it right into the market, fill my baskets with whatever I need, go through the checkout and drive out again.
Once I decide on the size of scooter, should I get 3 or 4 wheels?
Both types have advantages and disadvantages. Three wheel scooters have a much tighter turning radius and are usually more maneuverable around the house and in tight places they are also a little lighter and sometimes a few dollars less than their 4 wheeled siblings. On the minus side they are not as capable in rougher terrains because they can tip onto their sides. I have had that happen a couple of times with an older three wheel scooter. If you approach a bump or curb at an angle instead of head-on you run the risk of tipping. Finding yourself on your side on a sidewalk, a berm or in the street with your groceries rolling around is not a comfortable feeling. When I tipped it was when crossing a street probably due to my driving error. A scooter doesn’t respond like a car or resemble the family auto in any way. If driven properly they are quite safe, but if you violate the instructions you could be seriously injured. When climbing a curb or going over an elevation in the ground the driver must be careful to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. Most people ignore the instructions or warnings in a manual. Don’t! Read them a couple of times.
Do I need a Ramp for any reason?
An often overlooked item is a ramp. If you keep your scooter in the house and want to take it out the front door, even if it is at ground level you may need a small ramp to keep from getting hung up on the threshold. If you are going to do that often, please consider having a ramp built according to the disability codes in your city. If you rarely go out, a small folding aluminum ramp could be a great help. The weight of a ramp, though, depends on how long it is and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has requirements for how long a ramp should be. This link will help you determine the proper size for your needs. https://mobilitybasics.ca/wheelchair-ramps/ramp-length-calculator Google mobility scooter ramps for your city and you’ll likely find several places from which to choose. If not you can order from places like Amazon, Google, EBay and several others.
Is ground clearance an important consideration?
Ground clearance is another important issue to consider in your scooter. You will need enough to be able to clear objects that might get in your way. The term describes how far off the ground the lowest point of the scooter not in contact with the ground is. Ground clearance is an very important consideration for outdoor scooters that might need to traverse an uneven or poorly maintained surface. Too little clearance can result in getting your scooter hung up and unable to move, or worse yet, might cause it to tip over. It is important, too, in those cities where standard disability curb-cuts have not been constructed on sidewalks. You will often find either a standard old curbs or the sloped variety. A scooter with less than 4 inches of ground clearance may have some trouble negotiating these hazards. If your scooter is to be used around the home, then clearance is not as important but if you are going outside the home, you may want to consider heavy-duty or all-terrain scooters.
Do I really need the “lighting package” that scooters offer?
Many people ignore this feature but you could really be sorry if you find yourself out at night in the dark. Even if you think you will never have to take your scooter outside, I can assure you that at some point that’s where you will find yourself. For example, we have dogs. Dogs need to be walked. I have difficulty walking so I learned to take them for a “scooter walk.” If you have an indoors scooter it likely will have minimal ground clearance. You may need the lights to see the uneven ground ahead of you to avoid damaging your scooter or, worse yet, tipping and hurting yourself. Scooters, even the big ones, are hard to see so if you decide to purchase a bare bones, no lighting scooter, go to Wal*Mart or Target and purchase a headlight, a taillight and some reflectors for the back and sides. You should be able to get all three for under $20 at the stores mentioned, at any bicycle supply dealer or from any of the on-line sellers like Amazon and EBay. All scooters are very close to the ground and it pays to be lit up like a Christmas tree along with having one of those bicycle or scooter safety flags on the back. I don’t recommend driving your scooter on the street but sometimes it is unavoidable….that means you should also have a rear view mirror and even a horn. You need to be totally aware of your surroundings and you need to let your surroundings know you are there.
I weigh less than 200 lbs. and the scooter will carry 300 isn’t that enough?
Maybe 300 lbs. is adequate, chances are it is but take nothing for granted. Think about the situations you might be in and what you might need to carry in your lap, on the floor and/or in the basket. Your scooter should be able to support what you need like oxygen tanks, crutches, a walker, drinks, groceries or other purchases. Taking the time to consider your needs could save you money in the long run.
Is the size and type of tires important?
Yes, those are important considerations. There are two types of tires; pneumatic (air-filled), and solid-core tires (no flats). Air-filled tires are a good choice if the quality of your ride is important. That’s especially true of the larger scooters that have four-wheel suspension (springs) where the shock of hitting a bump is dampened before it gets to your rump. The air-filled tires help absorb some of the shock. Smaller scooters don’t have suspension of any kind so they ride like a skate board anyway. Most of them don’t come with pneumatic tires. There are circumstances where tires become extremely important and that is almost always outside of the home. Bigger, wider, tougher tires are a necessity if you are traveling over rough terrain, near construction sites, in sand or grass or a number of other situations. Thin, small tires likely will get stuck very quickly in adverse conditions. Scooters for use out of doors should always have tires that are at least 10 or 12 inches in diameter and 3 inches wide (the Panther’s tires are 14 X 4)
How long does it take to charge scooter batteries?
How deep is the ocean? It depends on the scooter and the batteries. Manufacturers list that information and more with each scooter but it there are several variables. Usually the first charge should be overnight. After that, look to your owner’s manual (many owner’s manuals can be downloaded before you buy a scooter just Google (brand and name of scooter like Spitfire) owner’s manual).
When the maker says a scooter has a range of 20 miles, is that accurate?
Well, kind of. I’m not sure if all manufacturers use the same criteria for making that determination but how far you can go depends entirely on how much weight the scooter is carrying, how fast you are going and if the battery was fully charged when you left. The fact is I rarely ever even consider the range because most of my trips are short and I put the scooter on the charger when I return from my journey. In five years of riding scooters I have never even come close to running out of power.
I’m sure you have other questions but I hope those provided cover your key concerns. Scooters aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t have the coordination, strength or concentration to operate a scooter. Hopefully your physician will tell you that. In many cases a power wheelchair might be a better choice, but that’s a discussion for another day. I have no experience with wheelchairs and will have to do considerable research to be sure I’m offering accurate information.
Scooters are not meant to be like motorized ATVs, motorcycles, or SUVs. They were not designed or built to be recreational vehicles either. They are designed to help disabled persons get from point A to point B. A mobility scooter is not a toy but it is also not a car or bus. You can have the most decked-out, high-priced scooter ever made and it still won’t perform like a car or an ATV. Your 150 lb. scooter traveling at 7 miles an hour is no match for a 3500 lb. car going 45 or 50. Remember that if you think about getting off the sidewalk and onto the street. Be cautious, responsible and extremely careful. Keep in mind that you have a scooter and it should be ridden on sidewalks and paved areas. Avoid riding on streets. Even the fastest of scooters will only go 15 miles an hour, far too slow to stay with traffic and far too small to be seen. However, if construction or other barriers force you to get into the flow of traffic on a street and your scooter has a lighting package turn on your flashers, put up a safety flag and look for a place to get back on the sidewalk as fast as possible.
Good luck with your decision and please, be careful out there. If you have comments or questions include them in the space provided. If you would like to contact me directly you can at firstname.lastname@example.org
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.
By Bob Aronson
If you have read this blog before read it again. There are important new updates at the end. The most recent was added on December 1, 2016
This report is my opinion. I am not associated with Tzora or any other scooter company in any way nor am I compensated by anyone for anything. I am reporting on the Tzora scooter because it is what I own and we paid the full price for it. Some of my comments, I’m sure, will apply to other mobility vehicles as well.
Before I get any farther into my report this WARNING. There are many stores and internet sites preying on disabled people who need wheelchairs and scooters to be able to get around and take care of their needs. Don’t fall for the ads that tell you that you can get one of these vehicles absolutely free because Medicare will pay for it. They won’t. Medicare will pay for 80% of vehicles that are used only IN THE HOME and they won’t pay for just any scooter or wheelchair you choose. Medicare pays 80% for vehicles that meet their standards not necessarily yours. They will not pay anything for any vehicle that is used OUTSIDE of the home.
The Titan I own and tested adds two special dimensions to mobility scooters, Power and Speed. I fully realize that not everyone needs either of those features and that many people want smaller, more portable and less expensive scooters. I am sorry to say I tested none of them because I wanted one with the power and speed to meet our unique demands. The first demand is for me to be better able to get around. The second is to help wife Robin set up at art shows and that means being able to transport heavy loads over a all kinds of terrain for fairly long distances in the dark. This scooter meets and exceeds all those demands.
I own the Tzora Titan three-wheel model scooter. It retails for about $2,000 and was a gift from my sister and brother-in-law. It is a first class vehicle. That’s me in the picture (top left) and to give you some perspective I am 6’4″ 180 pounds. The scooter carries me easily and has plenty of leg room.
The seat collapses to the floor and the tiller does the same so you can store it at a very low profile. It has a lever in the middle that when pulled separates the scooter into two pieces of just less than 50 lbs each making it fairly easy to get into and out of a standard car trunk.
First let me provide a narrative of how I use it and what I found out about riding a mobility scooter outside of my front yard. Then I will list the pros and cons of this particular scooter. I suspect, though, that my critique will have some application to all mobility scooters.
This report and its updates covers a period of about two years in which I road tested the scooter about as thoroughly as possible and I did so in three ways. One is that I took it the 1.5 mile round trip to our neighborhood supermarket several times. Those trips took me over curbs, uneven concrete, bumpy berms, sand, some mud and speed bumps. They also took me on the street. My second test was when I took it to Disney World and also on aeveral Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas, Key West and Cozumel and…the third test was the toughest. We took it to wife Robin’s art shows where we had to haul a truckload of show equipment (tent, poles, pedestals, boxes of jewelery etc) Before I elaborate on the three tests….a safety tip.
While my vehicle has a big flag on the back and all the lights any vehicle would need I don’t think it or anything like it belongs on the street but sometimes it is unavoidable for two reasons. 1) There may not be any curb cuts, or 2)someone has blocked a driveway with two or three cars and you have no choice but to go on the street to get around them and then get back on the walkway.
My best advice is, get off the street as soon as you can. That’s no place for anyone with a disability scooter or chair. We are just too small and too close to the ground to be clearly visible to all drivers. We are also much too slow. The Tzora is faster than most but it will only get up to 10 mph max. If you must go on the street and you have lights, turn them all on and attach one of those tall flags that lets everyone know you are there but get off the street as soon as possible.
If you need a scooter for things like going grocery or any other kind of shopping here’s what my test drive revealed. When you drive the vehicle into a store be respectful of those who are on foot and only go into establishments that have enough room for both you and the people on foot. Also remember you need room to maneuver. Sometimes you can’t get through an aisle and that means you have to either turn around or back out. If you back out be very, very careful.
You will find that your shopping experience in a supermarket is a lot different when you are in a sitting position and it will take longer. When you are seated you are much more likely to study products than if standing. That means you could be blocking the aisle so watch for other customers. You may save money, too. The basket will only hold a couple of bags of groceries and you can also place something the size of a 12 pack of soda on the floor behind your feet.
If your basket is in the back of the scooter as mine is, it is more difficult to either place purchases in it or to unload it when you are at the checkout counter. Either way you will find that on occasion you will have to get out of the scooter to reach something. Be sure that it is key is turned off when you leave the seat so if you accidentally hit the accelerator lever it doesn’t knock you or someone else off their feet.
Remember, too that your basket has a limited capacity and if you are going to go any distance when you leave the market you had better be sure everything in it is secure or you may leave a trail of tomatoes, apples and other goodies all the way home. I always keep a couple of short bungee cords in the basket so I can tie down loose items.
My second test was taking it with us oto Disney world and on several Carnival cruises and riding it ashore at several ports of call. On our first attempt to get it in the car and we found the advertising to be accurate. It broke into two pieces (not counting the two batteries) and both fit easily in the back of our mini van along with luggage, four adults and a 6-year-old child.
Upon arriving at the cruise ports we unloaded it from the back of the minivan plopped the batteries in place, turned the ignition key and Voila, we were on our way to the ship.
Inside the terminal it was a breeze. Carnival staff were extremely courteous and helpful in making way for the scooter. There were some relatively steep ramps but the Titan climbed them without difficulty. Most mobility scooters are built in a manner that allows it to negotiate steep inclines. If you are going to buy a scooter ask about it’s ability to negotiate steep inclines from a standing start. It must be able to do that.
Our only real surprise was finding that the Tzora Titan was one inch wider than the door to the cabin aboard the Carnival Fascination. But, no problem, once again we pulled the lever that separated the front from the back of the scooter, slid it in sideways and closed the door. It really was a simple as that. The whole scooter weighs less than 100 pounds (minus the batteries which weigh 20 lbs each and are easily removed. We found on subsequent cruises, though, that not all stateroom doorways are the same size and on some of the larger ships we just drove the scooter right into the room.
If it must be taken apart because of a narrow doorway, reassembling it is very easy. Just slide the scooter sideways through the door into the hall, quickly assemble it and ride it off the ship.
Nassau , Key west and Cozumel are accustomed to tourists but like cities everywhere they were not built to be accessible for disability vehicles so there are a number of challenges in getting from the street on to the sidewalks. There are curb cuts but they can be found only where new construction has taken place. On one occasion there was a curb that was well over the 5 inch clearance of my scooter and as we sat there and pondered the situation, three men came by, saw my dilemma and picked up the scooter with me in it to place it on the other side of the curb. Very nice. Otherwise the tour around the ports was uneventful. Pedestrians and drivers alike seem to accept mobility vehicles for what they are and are quite patient with them.
On one cruise I found that upon arriving at the ship to re-board the ramp was not only at a significant incline it was also just a few inches from a curb. I told my wife, Robin, I did not think we could make it up the ramp because there was no way I could get a run at it. I had to approach the ramp, make a sharp right turn and then try to ascend it. We had gone up a few ramps earlier but nothing as steep as this one and I doubted the Tzora would make it. We had to board the ship, though, so we forged ahead thinking the worst that could happen is that we’d have to get someone to give us a push.
Feeling like an Indy driver testing a car for the first time I approached the ramp, turned the tiller to the right, pulled the accelerator lever and expected to stall. Surprisingly the Titan went up the ramp as easily as it crossed the perfectly flat street leading up to it. I’ll never again doubt the Tzora’s ability to make a grade. I have no idea how they engineered this scooter but it has exceeded my expectations.
The third test was easily the toughest. My wife is a jewelry artist and we travel to art shows all over the country. Our Chevy Express 3500 van pulls a 30 foot travel trailer so we can take the comforts of home and our two dogs with us.
The Chevy Van is full of art show equipment and jewelry. Some art shows are easier to set up than others. The one we tested the Titan at was one of the tougher ones. Because of construction there was no way we could get the van near Robin’s assigned tent site. The closest we could get was 3 blocks away where our Travel Trailer was parked. That means we had to “Dolly” everything to the site. That’s a minimum of a dozen loads and it is over grass, sidewalks, curbs, railroad tracks and even some gravel. It also requires crossing busy streets, going up inclines and avoiding the occasional Amtrak train.
I have Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) so my ability to physically pull that dolly is zero. Robin could pull it but It is a tough job — so enter the Tzora. The advertising says it will hold as much as 400 pounds. It says nothing about what it will pull. I figured that at best we probably could pile some very light boxes on the dolly but not much more. Well, I’ve been fooled twice now by the Titan. The first time was when I doubted its ability to make it up the ramp going into the ship and the second time was with its pulling capacity.
To avoid the back breaking work of pulling a fully loaded dolly three blocks through all kinds of terrain we connected a regular four-wheel expandable dolly to the back of the scooter with a chain. Not ideal, but we didn’t have a standard trailer hitch.
We made several trips to the tent site. With each trip we piled more on the dolly and each time the Titan acted as though there was nothing back there. On one load we placed 6 pedestals on the dolly (they are different sizes and fit inside each other) along with other assorted items. I won’t even guess at the weight but I built those pedestals and they are heavy and solid. The sat atop a solid wood table apron. I have to believe the load was at least 200 pounds maybe more. The scooter didn’t hesitate once.
Our final trip was the biggest load — one both Robin and I felt would be way too much for the scooter. It was at least 50 pounds heavier than the previous load. It included a heavy table, the tops to the pedestals, drawers heavy with jewelry components and tools and some pipe for the tent. I mounted the scooter thinking, “You’ve been pretty good, scooter, but I doubt you will even move this load.”
I turned the ignition switch, pulled the accelerator lever and we moved forward once again as though there was nothing behind us. Away we went over grass, sand, concrete, bumps, hills, up inclines and over railroad tracks with not a single hesitation. What can I say? I’m impressed. And … with all those trips and pulling all that weight we still had 3/4 of a tank of electric charge left.
A final note. One morning I had to take a trailer load of goods from the RV to the tent in the dark. I flipped the light switch and was amazed at how bright they were. Many bikes and scooters have anemic lighting systems that are almost useless. Not this one. the lights are really bright which not only means you can see but just as important is the fact that you can be seen.
So there you have my assessment and my tests. Below is a simple pros and cons statement about this particular scooter along with a few updates on other journeys and tests. I don’t know if all scooters will do what the Tzora can, you’ll have to test them, but perhaps after reading this you will know what to ask and what to look for. .
- It has a lot of power and is fast by mobility scooter standards, about 8 mph top speed
- I honestly don’t know what the pulling capacity is but it will pull a lot.
- This scooter will carry about 400 pounds & that’s big plus if you want to use it for shopping. Ask about load capacity when you are scooter or wheelchair shopping. Remember that the distance the vehicle will travel is directly related to the weight it is carrying and the speed at which it is being driven. Weight and speed affect the power of the battery and therefore the range of your scooter.
- Super lighting system. Very bright unlike a lot of battery powered lights.
- It will climb relatively steep grades with ease
- The basket will indeed hold a lot. Not three full bags of groceries as they claim but certainly two and maybe a little more. I also have carried a 12 pack of soft drinks between or behind my feet. The floor offers plenty of room.
- The batteries will in fact give you a range of ten miles and maybe more (depending on speed and weight) but be sure to recharge them. I put my scooter back on the charger after every use.
- The lighting system (head and tail lights, turn signals and hazard flashers) works great but will drain your batteries very quickly.
- The batteries charge quickly and hold their charge for a long time and the gauge on the tiller is quite accurate.
- It is amazingly quiet, you can’t hear it coming
- It has a keyed ignition which is excellent theft prevention
- The five inches of ground clearance is good but I’d like even more
- The ride is ok…a little bumpy but it’s a scooter after all.
- The arm rests on both sides will raise and lower which makes for ease of getting in and out
- The turning radius is superb. I can easily turn a full circle in the aisle of a supermarket.
- It came with a rear view mirror and it should have two — one on each side. They are essential because you use them just as you wold with a car.
- I love the idea of having a cup holder but this one will only hold standard size soda cans…grossly inadequate
- The cane holder is also a nice feature but only if you have a very skinny, round cane. If you have a custom cane as I do or a walking stick forget it. I took apart the one that came with the scooter and remodeled it to fit my custom-made cane.
- The scooter has no switch in the seat which disables it when no one is on it. That means that if the key is on and you are standing and hit the accelerator lever the scooter will move and that could be unsafe.
- There is no backup signal, no beep. There should be
- It can pull a lot, it should come with a ball trailer hitch 🙂
- The tires on my model seem to need air often.. In two years I’ve had three flats so I always carry a spare inner tube. I am not sure if it is just the tires on my scooter or if they are all like that. No matter which scooter you buy get a small bicycle tire pump and attach it to the scooter so you always have it. Nothing worse than finding a tire is flat and no pump or compressor anywhere to be seen.
- The scooter will tip over if you make too sharp a turn at too great a speed at an incline. Three wheel scooters are not as stable as their four-wheel cousins. This is not a criticism but a fact that one should be aware of.
- It has five inches of clearance which is great. After riding it for a while I wish it had more although you will have real trouble finding a scooter with that much, never mind more and if you do you can expect a significant increase in price.
- The horn didn’t work when I got it and the batteries were defective. The company responded quickly to fix both.
- It comes apart easily but when you put it back together you have to be sure you have made the connection or the scooter won’t go. Not a big problem but it doesn’t work perfectly every time.
- There is no noise and no indicator when you use the turn signals so it is easy to forget they are on and drain the battery.
- The company should provide a second mirror, one is not enough.
- There is a “Free wheeling” lever on the back that allows you to push the scooter or its parts when you are not on it (like getting it into a ship stateroom). If the lever is in the free wheeling position when you get on the scooter it will not go. You must remember to take it out of that position when you want to ride it.
- Remember that these vehicles are ELECTRIC and electricity and water don’t mix. If water gets into the electronics you will come to an abrupt stop and may not get going again. If you are caught in the rain, wait until it lets up a bit but if you must ride through it do so slowly to avoid splashing water into the electronics under the scooter. While some mobility rides have sealed the electronic elements fairly well not all do and even so some parts are exposed. High ground clearance helps and is another reason for seeking a mobility vehicle with the highest clearance you can afford. All mobility vehicles carry the water and electronics warning. But…they don’t always offer it in big bold print and they should. Best advice…keep your mobility vehicle away from water.
That’s my assessment of my mobility vehicle. I hope you found some information that was or is useful to you I will close with this. A mobility scooter or wheelchair is a major decision and can be a major investment. Do your homework. You should not only get on the internet and find out more you should test drive those that meet your criteria. You need not pay thousands for a scooter or wheelchair, they come in all ranges. What you buy depends entirely on how and where you plan on using it, but think it through very carefully. This is a big decision.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 17, 2013. Recently my artist wife decided to try a new lighting scheme in her booth…2 12 volt AGM batteries. They work beautifully but each battery weights in at 40 lbs. Now I not only pull the trailers full of art show supplies, weights and tent components I have added 80 pounds worth of batteries to the load and still, no difference in operation. The Titan pulls it all with ease over any terrain and up grades. Incidentally, I carry the two batteries on the floor of the titan and still have enough room for my feet.
Lest I be misunderstood, the Titan is no Jeep. You can’t go off-roading with it and I wouldn’t try to attach a snowplow to the front so you can clear your driveway but it sure exceeds what I expected from a mobility scooter.
Best of all riding on the Titan is like having a bright red Corvette convertible in a neighborhood full of brown Chevrolets. Everyone wants to know about the sports car. The Titan doesn’t look like your average mobility scooter and people notice that. There’s a Carnival Cruise Lines employee at the Jacksonville, Florida Cruise port who does not know my name but recognizes the scooter whenever I drive in and always greets me with…”There’s that super scooter again…welcome back.” It’s nice to be noticed.
UPDATE JANUARY 12, 2014. Yesterday was the first all day endurance test of the Tzora. We went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida with granddaughter Lily Grant. The Tzora Titan had wheels on the ground at 9 AM and traveled through nearly every street in the magic kingdom until 6 PM. 9 hours of almost continuous operation without a hitch. When the day was over the battery gauge registered 3/4 full. The day was made up of a lot of stop and go riding and up and down some fairly steep inclines. I have no idea how long those batteries will last but I would not have been surprised if we had another 4 or 5 hours of charge left….maybe more. After several months of owning the Titan I am more impressed than ever.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 15, 2014. At the Sarasota, Florida Art show the Amazing Tzora Titan was even more amazing as these pictures tell the story. The first shot is of us loading up the dolly to be pulled by the scooter at the campground three blocks from the show. The second picture is the arrival at the art show to the amazement of other artists and — the final, third shot is what made the load even more incredible. Besides the dolly load behind us I was carrying two 40 lb batteries on the floor of the Titan, the batteries are used to power the lights in Robin’s tent. The Titan pulled this load with no sign of strain and did it with the lights on and the hazard flashers blinking so that we could be seen crossing busy intersections very early in the morning. Even with using the extra power for lighting our way we noticed no difference in the scooter’s ability to move the load.
Update, March 6, 2014, I recently had a flat tire n the rear with no load other than me on the vehicle. The inner tube had a hole in it. I watched the repair person closely and he didn’t even need a tool to change the tube, just pulled the old one out, put the new one in, pumped it up and it was ready to go. I now carry an extra tube with me Tires on the Titan are 12 1/2 X 2 1/2 and the tubes are very cheap. Usually available at any bicycle repair shop.
Update June 6, 2014. Yes, i still love the scooter but because of COPD and osteoarthritis I began to have difficult loading and unloading the scooter from the van despite its easy disassembly and assembly. The two 50 lb pieces are too bulky for me to maneuver so we had to find a way to get the scooter aboard our Chevy Express van through the side doors in one piece, batteries, basket and all. There is a wide assortment of devices that are made to lift and transport scooters and wheelchairs and all are expensive. I wanted something that i could handle without costing a small fortune. We did it for about $500 which is approximately a fourth the price of other devices on the market.
First, brother in law Guy Guittar remodeled the inside of the van to accommodate an intact scooter, but with the seat and tiller folded down so we could have storage room on top. Once the opening was built we bought a Superwinch through Amazon for a little over $100. We also purchased a folding five foot aluminum ramp for about $200 and a Jump Starting AGM battery to power the winch for a little over $100. I built a shelf for the winch to sit on and we attached the shelf to the far wall of the van. The two leads from the winch were attached to the AGM battery which sits between the front seats of the van but toward the back wall of the compartment. The winch has a remote control on about a 12 foot cord. We placed the ramp against the open side doors of the van, drove the scooter up about a foot, attached the winch cable, turned on the power supply, released the lever on the back of the scooter to allow free wheeling and pushed the”in” switch. Slick as can be the scooter was pulled into the van in less than a minute. I re-locked the wheels of the scooter, folded the ramp and slid it into the compartment, turned off the power supply and drove away all in less than a couple of minutes with little or no strain.
Update July 27, 2014 The only fault I can really find with the Tzora is inferior tires and tubes. I think the tires should be bigger and better. I have had several flat tires, none while pulling a load and all of them are the result of leaking inner tubes. My best advice to owners is to either buy solid rubber tires or to carry a couple of spare inner tubes. I suggest you buy the thorn proof tubes many bicycle riders use, I got mine through Amazon. They will stand up to almost anything and they are easy to change. If a tire goes flat on the Tzora simply disconnect the two parts of the scooter and turn the part on its side with the flat tire. If the flat is in the back you don’t even have to take the wheel off of the unit, just pull the old tube out, put the new one in and pump it up. If it is in front, the wheel must come off in order to change the tube. And…don’t forget, always carry a small tire pump. You are going to need it.
Update December 1,2016 Finally after almost 4 years of riding the Titan for many miles hauling heavy loads over all kinds of terrain, I had to replace the batteries. You should know that the batteries are contained within the gray case with the handle. Just take out the screws open the case, check on the manufacturer and model number of the batteries and then Google it to find a supplier. I found one that charged me about $115 for both batteries and included free shipping. There are many suppliers so you should do some shopping but I recommend buying the same brand that is in your scooter now. There are lots of aftermarket products that aren’t any good. Buy what the manufacturer buys to be safe.
Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.
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